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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ahmadinejad: I'd Sit Down With Obama And McCain

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday challenged the candidates vying for the US presidency to a debate and called for "fundamental change" in the next US government.

Ahmadinejad said he would be willing to meet with Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who has taken fire from his opponents over his offer to talk -- if elected president -- with the leaders of several US foes including Iran.

"I announce my readiness to meet with all the (US presidential) candidates of the United States in front of the media," the Iranian president told a press conference at the D8 summit of developing nations.

"To build confidence in the region (we need) to have fundamental change in the next US government," he added. Ahmadinejad has previously challenged Bush to a debate at the United Nations.

The Iranian leader also called for United States military bases across the world to be "eradicated".

"The greatest threat in the Middle East and to countries in the world is US intervention," he said. "The military bases in the whole world should be eradicated and removed."

Ahmadinejad, who is embroiled in a wrangle with the West over Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, called on the major powers to "withdraw from animosity and hostile actions against us".

"Justice, peace and friendship is also to their benefit," he said.

He reiterated that his country would not pull back from its nuclear ambitions and called on Washington to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

"No one in Iran will go back from our nuclear position," he said. "We want dialogue for the benefit of all sides but within the framework of law and justice"

"To rebuild confidence, the US must withdraw its forces from Iraq and allow the fate of the people of Iraq and regional countries to be written by the hands of their own people," he said.

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